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Joy is a Choice

December 23rd, 2016

I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all people.” Luke 2:10 NAS.

Joy is a choice you make and a gift God gives

Our five month old great granddaughter, Riley

My thoughts and comments today are that joy is a choice.”

“Merry Christmas” is an all too familiar greeting, but merry seems a bit underwhelming when describing the history-changing birth of Jesus. Merriment is a good thing that comes from enjoying good times with good friends. But Christmas is so much more. And God has more for you, much more. I believe, “Joyous Christmas,” would be more appropriate for God’s intent for this and every season of life.

This Advent, open your heart and home to be overwhelmed by an inexpressible and glorious joy. That’s how Peter described Jesus’ presence permeating your heart and daily life. “You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV. Your experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and sacrifice promises no less and deserves nothing less than great and glorious joy. Let your joy be unrestrained.

That first, auspicious Christmas night, the herald Angel’s announcement to the shepherds described the moment and promise, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today, there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” At such news, Heaven could be silent no longer; “Suddenly, there appeared a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” Luke 2:10-14 NAS. Indeed, the Incarnation was “good news of inexpressible and glorious joy.” However intended for you His joy may be, great joy requires your initiative.

Joy is a gift God chose to give; joy is a choice you must make. Advent invites you to choose joy. Nurture joy in your heart because it is not natural to our fallen nature. Choose joy again and again until joy becomes a settled disposition of your spirit, while you draw continually on ample, spiritual resources. Jesus said, “If you remain in Me and My words remain in you . . that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV.

Inexpressible joy should not be left unexpressed. When you have His joy completely, you will express His joy consistently. You can’t share something you don’t have, and you won’t keep something you don’t share. When you give joy, you gain joy. Celebrate with abandon and without apology. Let His joy be real in you until it is irresistible to others. Incarnate the joy of Christmas that an unbelieving world cannot resist. Great joy is unknown where the Good News is untold.

As our family entered this Thanksgiving and Christmas season, we are grieving the death of a 21-year-old son and grandson, Parker. I empathize with others who feel the shadow of grief at this season. Grieving is unavoidable, even appropriate in such circumstances. A friend recently commented, “Sometimes tears are all we have.” Grieving is no reproof of joy. Grieving is the process by which healing comes. Grieving needs time and trust to accomplish its purpose. Allow yourself time, and choose joy this Christmas. Grief will give way to healing and the joy that results. Joy is not some sort of hilarity; joy is a settled confidence that God is Who He says He is and will do what He says He would do.

Hope, joy, and peace are God’s incomparable Christmas gifts for you. You can find joy amid grief, when you include trust and hope. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13 NIV. Choose joy this Christmas.

Today, I pray that Jesus is the source of your joy and your celebration is without restraint.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Allen and Gayle Randolph    

Christian Communications 2016-121014 Christmas joy

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Steadfast Hope

October 22nd, 2016

I am resending this devotional, “A steadfast Hope,” because I have added the last paragraph, as well as a personal note from Gayle and I, and our family. I hope you will take the time to read the devotional again and note our family news at its end. Your prayer is especially appreciated in these next days.

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With Christ in your life, your past is erased, your present is blessed, and your future is certain.

We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18 NIV.

My thoughts and comments today are about “steadfast hope.”

The concept of hope is much misused and misunderstood. People use the word inaccurately, when referring to something they wish to happen but are not very sure it will. Many people live life wistfully, hoping what they wish could be true. Wishes don’t come true; faith does. Biblically, the word conveys a radical certainty which is the foundation for all you believe to be true now and in your future. Most people assume that, “seeing is believing.” Incorrectly, we require incontrovertible evidence before we venture into faith.  Contrary to every assumption, the Bible teaches that “believing is seeing.”

Paul reasoned, “For we were saved in this hope, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one still hope for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.” Romans 8:24-25 NKJV. True hope begins, rests, and thrives in this truth, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:27 NKJV. Contrast that with life before your heart was at rest in Christ. “At that time you were separate from Christ . . without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:13 NIV. With Christ in your life, your past is erased, your present is blessed, and your future is certain. “[We who] take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:18-19 NIV. Biblical hope rests, “firm and secure,” upon the clarity of God’s Word to you and the surety of Jesus Christ’s work in you.

Hope is akin to love and faith, not a weaker version of either. Paul affirmed the Thessalonian Christians, “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV. He similarly encouraged the Christians in Corinth, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13 NKJV. Biblical hope deserves more priority than is usually given.

“Let us hold on firmly to the hope we profess, because we can trust God to keep His promise.” Hebrews 10:23 TEV. Paul prayed for the Roman church, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV. You experience overflowing hope as you fill your thoughts and heart with God’s Word. “That we through the patience and comfort of the Scriptures might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NKJV.

When things aren’t working out as expected, choose hope anyway. Losing hope for your marriage or family? Place your home in God’s hands. God can mend hearts, restore love, and heal a marriage. Giving up on yourself or someone else? God can change a life. Struggling with finances? God is the Lord Who provides. As long as there is life there is hope. “Jesus Christ, Who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” 1 Peter 1:3 NKJV. The Resurrection is God’s way to show that nothing is impossible.

Considering that day of Christ’s return and our glorification, Paul wrote of the Blessed Hope that awaits us, “Live self-controlled, upright and Godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope – the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”  See Titus 2:11-14 NIV. We look with even more anticipation for that glorious day.

A PERSONAL NOTE. After I had written and sent this devotional, we received a call that our grandson – just twenty-one years old two weeks earlier – had died in an automobile accident that morning. The news was devastating. Yet these words about steadfast hope were tried and proven true. God has been faithful and His Word is ever sure. The Blessed Hope of which Paul wrote is nearer and dearer than ever before. Our family is grateful for the loving words of encouragement and faithful prayers of so many friends. Allen and Gayle Randolph

Today, I pray for you to experience hope that is undiscourageable and steadfast.

Christian Communications 2016

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edl-anchor

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The Truth About Trust

October 28th, 2015

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” Proverbs 3:5 NIV.

Trust rests securely on God’s history of trustworthiness.

My thoughts and comments today are about “the truth about trust.”

There are times when trust is not easy for us, especially in bewildering circumstances when trust is absolutely required. Trust is essential. Trust is integral to the relationship between government and the governed, business dealings, personal relationships, successful marriages, healthy families, and your relationship with God. Trust is more about substance than supposition, more about faith than feelings, more volitional than emotional.

The Apostle Paul considered trust as fundamental, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV. Isn’t that what you desire? Every person yearns to be filled with joy and peace, while overflowing with hope. From the Scripture, the Source and process are clear. You experience those only, “. . as you trust in [the God of hope].”

Trust rests securely on God’s history of trustworthiness. God has been, is, and will forever remain absolutely trustworthy, “the same yesterday, today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 NKJV. Trust provided the foundation for Paul’s confession of God’s nature and conviction of the truth of His Word. “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 NKJV. Read Romans 8:37-39 NKJV.

Without trust, faith is more imagined than real. Trust is the foundation for faith and, “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen.” Hebrews 11:1 NKJV. With trust, it is all or nothing. By definition, trust that is conditional or partial includes a mixture of distrust. Solomon’s counsel is this: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV. In these Bible verses, I notice three practical truths about trust.

(1) There are two non-negotiables about trust. Be wholehearted in your trust of God, and make God your first and foremost consideration in everything you do, either great or small. Biblically, the Hebrew concept of trust means, “to lean one’s whole weight upon something in order to rest upon it and be strengthened by it.” Or more simply stated, trust is, “to rely entirely.” That is the truth about trust.

(2) There is one temptation you must avoid in all instances and at all costs. “I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.” Jeremiah 10:23 NIV. Refuse every enticement to trust yourself or others above and before God. There must be an entirety and exclusivity about trust. That is the truth about trust.

(3) Trust holds a glorious promise from God. Trust straightens the unforeseen twists and turns of life’s journey. “Trust in the Lord . . Delight yourself in the Lord . . Commit your way to the Lord . . Rest in the Lord.” Read Psalms 37:3-8 NKJV. That is the truth about trust.

Today, I pray for you to find God trustworthy in all things at all times.

EDL TRUST father and son

 

Christian Communications

 

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Be Encouraged

April 2nd, 2015

“That through endurance and the encouragement we might have hope.” Romans 15:4 NIV.

Encouragers find themselves being encouraged.

My thoughts and comments today are, “be encouraged.”

Life can be wearing and wearying. Weariness and discouragement accumulate like emotional dust, layer upon layer until its load gradually becomes more than you can bear alone. Everyone needs encouragement in daily doses. You and I live in a world that is often discouraging, among people who are easily discouraged themselves, therefore discouraging to others. Sometimes, life might be described in these words, “They said, ‘Cheer up. Things could be worse.” And sure enough, I cheered up . . and things got worse.” Sometimes it feels like that. Both discouragement and encouragement are emotions, but so much more; those emotions generate critical assumptions about circumstances that will gradually impact your expectations, either negatively or positively. Before you get discouraged reading all this, let me share about encouragement.

David provides a Godly example of how to be encouraged in discouraging situations, “And David was greatly distressed; for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved . .” Read 1 Samuel 30:6-19 KJV. In their pain, David’s soldiers blamed him for something an enemy had done, a tragedy he could not have anticipated nor could prevent. Does that scenario sound familiar? Here’s where the narrative and outcome changes, “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” When all around you is disheartening, look to the God who is for you, with you, and in you. David sought the Lord and was told to pursue the enemy, “And David recovered all.” Encouragement restores your body, soul, and spirit.

Encouragement provides spiritual intervention and reversal of everything the devil intended for your harm and loss – joy, confidence, hope, trust, peace, or positive expectations. Encouragement is a common theme and recurring accent throughout the Bible. Paul encouraged Christ-followers, “Therefore, we do not lose heart . . for our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they will produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever.” Read 2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV/NLT. You can turn your disappointments into divine appointments.

“For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Read Romans 15:4-7 NIV. Read those words again, carefully and slowly. Notice in this verse that Christ-followers are promised three things:

(1) “Hope,” which the Bible describes as an anchor of the soul, “both sure and steadfast.” Read Hebrews 7:17-19. See Romans 15:13.

(2) “Encouragement,” which results from Godly focus, stubborn trust, enriching thoughts, and edifying companions. See Hebrews 10:24-25/1 Thessalonians 3:2-3 NIV.

And, (3) “Endurance,” which is a joyful and steadfast expectation while you wait. See Colossians 1:10-14 NIV. Looking for a way to endure is better than looking for a way to escape.

When you are hopeful, you are encouraged; when you feel encouraged, you are strengthened to endure. Notice the progression: hope provides encouragement; encouragement promotes endurance; and the source of all of these is found in, “the Scriptures.” “Stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter. May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:15-17 NIV. See also 2 Timothy 3:15-17.

If you are discouraged, you’re looking in the wrong places and listening to the wrong voices; look to Jesus and be encouraged. And be an encourager; someone you know needs encouraging more than you. Jesus promised, “Give and it will be given you . . good measure, running over.” Luke 6:38. Encouragers find themselves being encouraged. If finding life hard to endure, or encouragement lacking, strengthen yourself in the enduring, encouraging truth of God’s Word. In several situations these recent days, I have felt the Lord impress upon my heart two simple words, “Be encouraged.” I share His words with you today. Whatever the situation, be encouraged.

Today, my prayer for you is that you are encouraged and become an encourager to others.

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Christmas Joy

December 10th, 2014

“You believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8 NIV.

Great joy is unknown wherever the Good News remains untold.

My thoughts and comments today are about “Christmas joy.”

“Merry Christmas!” is an all too familiar greeting, but “merry,” seems a bit underwhelming when describing the history changing birth of Jesus. Merriment is a good thing that comes from enjoying good times and good friends. But Christmas is so much more. And God has more for you, much more. I believe, “Joyous Christmas,” is more appropriate for God’s intent for this season and year round.

This Advent, open your heart and home to be overwhelmed by, “an inexpressible and glorious joy.” That’s how Peter chose to describe Jesus’ presence permeating your heart and daily life. “You believe in Him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” 1 Peter 1:8-9 NIV. Your experience and expression of the Savior’s birth, life, and sacrifice promises no less, deserves no less than great and glorious joy.

That auspicious Christmas night, the Angel’s’ announcement to the shepherds described the moment, “Behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people. For today, there has been born a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” At such news, Heaven could be silent no longer; “Suddenly, there appeared a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the Highest and on earth peace among men with whom He is well pleased.” Luke 2:10-14 NAS. Indeed, the Incarnation was “good news of great joy.”

But such joy did not begin with the first Christmas, nor does such abandoned joy end there. Christmas simply dramatized the eternal intent of the Father for all His creation to know glorious joy – at all times. Christmas’ celebration underscores the essence of your experience of His inexpressible joy every day. “In His presence is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11. That glorious joy will also flood your heart as you stand before God, “Who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” Jude 24-25.

However intended for you His joy may be, great joy is not automatic. Joy is a gift God chose to give; joy is a choice you make to receive. Advent invites you to choose inexpressible and glorious joy. Nurture joy in your heart because it is not natural to your fallen nature. Mature joy in your life until it becomes a more settled disposition of your spirit, as you continually draw on unfailing, spiritual resources. Jesus said, “If you abide in Me and My words abide in you . . My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” John 15:7/11 NIV. You have His joy completely; express His joy consistently.

You can’t share something you don’t have, and you can’t keep something you won’t share. When you give joy, you gain joy. Christmas isn’t really Christmas until you share your joy, and His joy, with others. Inexpressible joy should not be left unexpressed. Great joy is unknown wherever the Good News remains untold. This Advent, share the joy of Christmas every day, to every person, in every imaginable way. Celebrate without apology and with abandon. Invite, include, involve, welcome, laugh, love, express life, be real, and celebrate joyously.

Incarnate the joy of the message an unbelieving world cannot resist. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom 15:13 NIV. Hope, joy, and peace – my prayer and God’s Christmas gifts for you.

Today, my prayer for you this Advent is that His joy is real in you and irresistible to others.

 

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